It’s always an interesting exercise to tell the Christmas story. It is both a story we know well, and a story that we do not know at all. As children, many of us learned the parts of the story – often by acting in our own Christmas pageants. Many thanks to all who illustrated and acted our pageant this evening. We learned the characters of Mary, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, angels, animals, and of course a sweet faced baby – often a baby doll with no crying he makes. While we can retell all of the parts, perhaps we too sometimes miss what Christmas is all about. We miss how wild and amazing it is that God would come to us in the form of an vulnerable human, starting as a baby – who might have made a lot of crying as many babies do. We miss how shocking and revolutionary the whole concept of God with us, each of us and all of us, ordinary folks – really is. And how this is all part of God’s dream for setting God’s whole creation right. But I get ahead of myself.
Throughout Advent, we as a church, have been watching favorite Christmas movies and finding God’s dreams for Advent and Christmas in the midst of popular culture. It is amazing how we can find God everywhere when we open our eyes to the idea that God uses ordinary people, ordinary circumstances, and even ordinary movies to share with us.
Tonight, on this holiest of nights, we hear our scripture, our gospel lesson from none other than the blanket-bearing Linus: prophet among his peers, who speaks a truth that the class and friends need to hear. Let’s take a look at this clip from Charlie Brown’s Christmas. Listen for the word of the Lord.
This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen. It was just this week, while painting her nativity that Alisabeth turned to me and asked me: Why did God chose Mary? What followed was a wonderful conversation she initiated about the characters of the Nativity and their roles as well as us and our roles. The moment felt holy. As I was reflecting later, I found myself wondering if this is not how God feels when we begin wonder what Christmas is really about, too. When we move beyond the trappings of decorations and traditions, wondering what God’s dreams for us are. Perhaps, even after having thrown up our metaphorical hands and wondering like Charlie Brown, what is Christmas really all about anyway.
We might be able to recount the story; but have we noticed the miracle in our midst? The miracle of God coming to us, of the God of the universe who created heaven and earth, mountains and molehills (it is only us who confuses them), creation and creature. That very God coming to us as vulnerable human looking for our help and our relationship in making the world right, in bringing about God’s kingdom, in ushering in God’s ways. Those moments feel holy.
Those moments of worship and adoration, of offering ourselves to God, of being a part of God’s dream for the whole world is what Christmas is all about. This comforts and challenges us. How will we share that with our children, with our youth, with each other? We cannot and should not depend on others to teach our children and remind us what Christmas is all about. It is not the job of our schools or our government. It is not the role of our neighbors or our community.
It is the job of the church, God’s community, to tell and retell the stories so that our children, our youth, and our adults can tell them on their own. And find themselves like Charlie Brown, after hearing Linus’ telling, retelling them in their mind. Mulling over the nuance and making sense of who God is calling us to be. The God of us all, God of the universe who descended to Earth experiencing humanity who call each of us to live in ways that both comfort and challenge us.
That’s what Christmas is all about. The shepherds were comforted and challenged. They were amazed and terrified by the appearance of the angels. When God shows up, we too ought to be amazed. We are on holy ground, take off your metaphorical shoes and lean in. Whether this happens at 300 North Guernsey Road or in the Giant parking lot or anywhere in between. Experiences of God comfort and challenge us. God moved over all the earth in the birth of a baby and moves over us in as we worship and adore.
May you have a night, a season, a year, and ultimately a lifetime of experiencing God’s very presence and pondering it in your hearts.
This is the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, thanks be to God, Amen.